Man charged in La Crosse storage unit fire

A 71-year-old man was charged Tuesday with negligent handling of burning material in connection to a fire at the Edwards Storage units on June 2.

David J. Christel, who does not have a permanent address listed, did not appear in La Crosse County court on Tuesday and his lawyer did not know where he was.  A bench warrant was authorized.

According to the criminal complaint, Christel told police he did not intentionally set the fire at 2806 28th Street South.  Christel said he needed to get into his rented storage unit but had lost his key, so he used a saw and a bolt cutter to try to remove the lock, but when that didn’t work he used a blow torch.